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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Synagogue Attacker Gets 13 Years

APAlexander Koptsev, right, speaking with his lawyer from the defendant's cage in the Moscow City Court on Monday.
The Moscow City Court on Monday sentenced a 20-year-old man who attacked worshipers in a synagogue with a hunting knife to 13 years in prison and mandatory psychiatric treatment.

The court found Alexander Koptsev guilty of attempted murder on racist grounds for stabbing and wounding nine men in January at the Chabad Synagogue at 6 Bolshaya Bronnaya Ulitsa, near Pushkin Square.

The sentence brought a chorus of catcalls and invective from Koptsev's supporters in the courtroom.

One woman, who identified herself only as an Orthodox Christian journalist, loudly complained that Jewish children were being educated in Moscow on Russian taxpayers' money.

"When will this end? Wake up, wake up," she shouted.

The court dropped a charge of inciting interethnic hatred, and prosecution lawyers said they would appeal that.

"By deciding to drop [the charge], the court made a political decision ... in order to reassure the public that such things don't exist," prosecution lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant said.

Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar said he was satisfied with the stiff prison sentence but disappointed that the incitement charge had been dropped.

"We consider and continue to consider the main thing to be the educational value, a demonstration of the judicial system's preparedness to decisively struggle against fascism, anti-Semitism and extremism," Lazar said in a statement.

Witnesses of the Jan. 11 attack said Koptsev shouted "Heil Hitler" as he ran amok in the synagogue, stabbing wildly with a knife before he was overpowered by the synagogue's chief rabbi and other worshipers.

Investigators subsequently found items with swastikas and dozens of rounds of ammunition during a search of the Moscow apartment he shared with his parents.

The trial started Feb. 28.

A million Jews live in Russia, according to the Federation of Jewish Communities.

Rising xenophobia in recent years has led to hundreds of racially motivated attacks on dark-skinned foreigners from Africa and Asia and immigrants from Central Asia and the North Caucasus.